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Top 10 story lines: Is Wittman the right man for the job?

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Top 10 story lines: Is Wittman the right man for the job?

Unlike some other NBA coaches who have been know to coddle their players, Randy Wittman takes a different approach. The first-year Wizards head man is a straight-shooter who doesn't play favorites and makes his players earn their minutes and that's exactly what this young team needs. The Wizards were 20-46 last season and haven't made the playoffs in five years so they have a ton to prove, and Wittman's self proclaimed "old school" approach is exactly what this franchise needs.

After taking over for Flip Saunders last season, Wittman made it clear right away that it was his way or the highway. Who could forget the permanent benching of forward Andray Blatche because he was too out of shape? Blatche was amnestied in the off-season and clearly the message was sent by the Wizards that just because you have signed a big contract doesn't guarantee anything.

"We need to have those guys that when it does become tough, when it does become uncomfortable, they're not asking the whys, they're becoming tougher themselves and digging deeper," Wittman said.

Wittman has seven players still on their first contract playing with the Wizards, so he knows there will be continued growing pains this season but at last they will know where they stand.

"A lot of these kids that come into the league, they are hearing one thing, 'Man, it's great you've made the NBA, you're going to have a lot of money, you're going to have a big house, you're going to have lots of cars.' Nobody tells them how hard it's going to be. You don't hear that, so they don't know. It's not a knock against any of them. It's just they don't hear those things," Wittman said.

With Wittman running the team, the players will now know how hard they have to work to turn the Wizards fortunes around.

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Dwyane Wade's tour makes final stop in Washington as Heat-Wizards battle Saturday

Dwyane Wade's tour makes final stop in Washington as Heat-Wizards battle Saturday

WASHINGTON – Thomas Bryant and Troy Brown Jr. didn’t witness the vast majority of the Dwyane Wade NBA-playing era. Two of the Wizards’ kids still understand the significance of the Heat legend’s final tour stop in Chinatown.

“It’s definitely humbling to see guys I grew up watching play in front of me,” the 19-year-old Brown said at the morning shootaround ahead of Saturday night’s final Miami-Washington game of the regular season which tips at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

The bigger picture note is Saturday marks the last time the future Basketball Hall of Fame guard plays in Washington.

Miami (35-37) is most definitely in play for the Eastern Conference playoffs, but Wade’s season-long sendoff overshadows all especially when on the road. 

Wade’s resume is staggering. Three-time NBA champion, all with the Heat. Thirteen-time All-Star. Eight-time All-NBA selection. Finals MVP. The NBA’s leading scorer during the 2008-09 season will reach 23,000 points for his career in the coming days.  

We’ll see what the Wizards (30-43) organization conjures up for a sendoff. Perhaps another jersey exchange involving the 2006 NBA Finals MVP. Bradley Beal, who wears number 3 in honor of Wade, made sure he snagged one from Wade when the teams played in Miami this season.

Bryant’s view of Wade extends beyond a legendary foe. The two shared a college coach – Tom Crean directed Wade at Marquette and Bryant with Indiana. The Wizards’ young center is also friend’s with Wade’s basketball-playing son, Zaire.

“It means a lot,” Bryant said of facing Wade. “I’m really close to his son Zaire and I worked out with [Dwyane] in LA a couple of times with Coach Crean. I talked to [Dwyane] a couple of times and tried to catch up with him. Just seeing the legacy he’s built up in this league and just for him to play as hard as he does even in this last year is amazing.”

Wade, 37, isn’t looking to go out quietly. He is averaging 14.2 points and 25 minutes a game while playing in 62 of Miami’s 72 games. If the Heat keep up their current pace, there’s a good chance Wade participates in the postseason for the 14th time in 16 seasons.

For much of the season, it appeared one if not multiple teams qualifying for an Eastern Conference playoff berth would finish the season with a losing record. Second-half surges from Detroit, Brooklyn and most recently Miami may upend that dodgy narrative.

The Heat won eight of 10 before falling 116-87 at top-seed Milwaukee Friday night. Miami enters Saturday one-half game ahead of Orlando (35-38) and 2.5 over Charlotte (32-39).

The Wizards, who began at least a subtle pivot toward the future in Thursday’s loss to the Denver Nuggets, are six back of the Heat in the loss column with nine games to play.

Brown made his first career start in the 113-108 setback against the Nuggets with Trevor Ariza (groin strain) sidelined. Head coach Scott Brooks also went with a bigger lineup by inserting Thomas Bryant next to Bobby Portis with Jeff Green coming off the bench.

Since Ariza didn’t participate in the morning shootaround, there’s a logical thread that has Brown making his second career start. For the memory bank, nothing likely tops the first time. That is unless number two means facing Miami’s famous No. 3.

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Wizards vs. Heat: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

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Wizards vs. Heat: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Wizards take to the court on Saturday night and host the Miami Heat for one of their last regular season home games. 

The Wizards have dropped their last three games (against the Nuggets, Bulls and Jazz) while the Heat are riding a three-game win streak (over the Spurs, Thunder and Hornets).

The Wizards are desperate to recover the six games removed they sit from a playoff spot. Washington needs to claw their way over the Heat to even the series and propel a playoff push.

The #WizHeat game takes place on Saturday, March 23rd at 7:00 p.m. at Capital One Arena and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington.

WIZARDS vs. HEAT HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Miami Heat
Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.
When: 7:00 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Wizards vs. Heat game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington  
Live Stream: You can live stream Heat vs. Wizards on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. HEAT  TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)
6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)
7:00 PM: Heat vs. Wizards (LIVE)
9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)
10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

WIZARDS vs. HEAT INJURY REPORT

Wizards: Dwight Howard (OUT, Back), John Wall (OUT, Achilles), Ariza (DAY TO DAY, Groin)
Heat: Justise Winslow (OUT, Thigh), Rodney McGruder (OUT, Knee)

WIZARDS vs. HEAT PLAYERS TO WATCH

Wizards: Bradley Beal is averaging 27.4 points, 6.9 assists and 6.3 rebounds over the month of March. He has resumed a much larger leadership role on the court with John Wall and Dwight Howard remaining out.
Heat: This will be Dwyane Wade’s final visit to Capital One Arena on his farewell tour. Wade has averaged 14.1 points, 3.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds in his last 10 games. There will definitely be emotional postgame interactions to look for.

WIZARDS vs. HEAT SERIES HISTORY

Number of All-Time Meetings: 128 regular season games (four playoff games)
Regular Season Record: Heat lead 83-41
Playoff Record: Heat lead 4-0
Last Meeting: Heat won 115-109 on 1/4/19
Last 10: Heat lead 7-3
 

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